EAGAN, Minn. — Dean Lowry wrapped his introductory press conference with Twin Cities media members Thursday with his own questions.
"Where's Marcus at? Is Marcus here, too?"
The new Vikings defensive lineman by way of seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers was asking about another recent addition to Minnesota's defense, outside linebacker Marcus Davenport, who spent the past five seasons with the Saints.
Davenport's virtual session quickly followed Lowry's, and their enthusiasm for joining forces and becoming Vikings came through the computer screens.
It will be a few weeks before players begin the 2023 offseason workout program at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, but they are looking forward to opportunities ahead as each joins a new NFL team for the first time in his career.
Lowry said it was "reenergizing" to join Minnesota because he's "had so much respect for the Vikings and the way they do things."
"This past year, you could tell there was a difference on the field with the team when [Head Coach Kevin] O'Connell got there, and I think my experience in the division will help a bit, just from playing seven years in Green Bay and all of those things," Lowry said. "I'm excited. There's already a strong foundation in place, and I'm looking forward to joining a great thing."
Davenport beamed when asked about becoming teammates with Lowry and the opportunity they have to help improve Minnesota's defensive rankings while joining the effort to defend the 2022 NFC North title claimed by the Vikings.
"I know as a team, that's always the goal, to make the strides. And even from that, it's good to hear. Just for me, I would always think there's mutual respect," Davenport said. "In the long-term … as someone that is sincere, I think when you see other people who go through what you go through, you kind of understand, and from there, there's just excitement for us to be able to grow and make the strides in all directions. Even on the team that's already been there, I just know I'm going to contribute and try to give all that I got."
Here are four takeaways from the Lowry and Davenport introductory sessions:
1. Continuing to develop their games | By Craig Peters
Lowry and Davenport made it clear that each wants to continue to develop his own game while benefiting the Vikings.
Even though Lowry has a proven track record of 80 starts in 111 regular-season games since 2016, he welcomed the initial feedback he received during discussions with Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.
"When I met with Kwesi, he gave me some feedback on things I can improve on, and that's different from a front office standpoint to where I've been," Lowry said. "Coach O'Connell was very down-to-earth, and again, he had some great things to say about where the program is and the expectations and standards of what it is to be a Viking and just a really exciting time to be in Minneapolis."
Asked a follow-up about being receptive to feedback, Lowry said, "it's new to have a GM to give positive feedback and things to work on."
"I think also I'm coachable and want to improve my game; and to have someone who is obviously a very bright football mind give you feedback and tell you from an outside perspective of things you can work on, that's really good for me to hear and to improve my game," Lowry said. "I think that's one thing I've learned, going on eight years now, that you can always be coached, and the great players, the Hall of Fame players 10 years in, are asking to be coached, and I think that's a great example for our whole team."
Davenport was a first-round pick out of UTSA (Texas-San Antonio) in 2018. He recorded 9.0 of his 21.5 sacks for the Saints in 2021. His 15.1 career QB pressure rate ranks fourth among 131 players with 1,000 or more pass-rush snaps since 2018, but he wants more results after finishing 2022 with 0.5 sacks.
"I'm very critical, so I've been upset – I'm still upset – but that's just fuel for the future. I kind of go over my play and see that I didn't capitalize," Davenport said. "You know, as much as I would say that I had some success in matchups and putting the pressures, like you said, I wasn't necessarily being the smartest player to know when to capitalize and how to capitalize using my teammates, using the scheme, and just overall winning.
"I need to know my game, and I'm going to have to study other people's games way better, because I want to dominate," Davenport later added. "So just from that aspect, just continue taking the next steps. As far as the past and for all future references, I'm really trying to let go of everything and just keep walking forward, looking forward."
2. Goal of flourishing with Flores | By Craig Peters
New Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores and the Vikings are intending to be more aggressive and apply more pressure and disruption in 2023 than the squad did in 2022.
Lowry is bringing multiple years of experience in a 3-4 base and previous experience in Green Bay with Vikings Assistant Head Coach Mike Pettine and Pass Rush Specialist/Outside Linebackers Coach Mike Smith.
"I think it helps this transition because they know the certain defenses and schemes I've been successful in and certain situations that I've excelled in, so I'm looking forward to communicating that with Coach Flores and [defensive line] Coach [Chris] Rumph," Lowry said. "It's definitely a win for everybody."
He said he's "been a huge fan" of Flores "for a long time" through following his defenses from afar.
"It seems like everywhere he goes, he has great success and definitely is one of the bright minds in football," Lowry said. "If I had to describe his vision for defense, I would say it's versatile and tough. I'm sure we'll have a great OTAs with install and all that, but I'm excited to play for Coach Flores."
Lowry said he is likely to play 4- or 5-technique on base downs and then move inside to 3-technique in sub packages.
"I think it fits really well to what I've done in the past," Lowry said. "The Vikings have a really good thing going, so there's so many positives with this team on both sides of the football. I'm just looking to play a role in it and to excel in my role."
Davenport will be transitioning from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker spot, but he looks forward to playing in Flores' system.
"Just going off of history, he has such a great pedigree. As far as the transition, I don't necessarily know," Davenport said. "It's one of those things where I've only been in the building one day, so we all still have to learn and kind of grow in that aspect. But just from his attitude, just from his takes on the game, it's going to be exciting. How would I say it? I believe with my whole heart that this should be the best year. And just from there, I think we can do great things together."
3. Plenty of previous background info | By Lindsey Young
Both defenders are arriving in Minnesota with previous background on the team and organization.
After spending seven seasons with the Packers, Lowry is welcoming the opportunity to switch jersey colors for ensuing Border Battles.
Lowry noted that O'Connell is incredibly down-to-earth and "had some great things to say" about the Vikings current situation, in addition to standards and expectations for the team.
"I think my experience in the division will help a bit," Lowry said. "I'm excited. There's already a strong foundation in place, and I'm looking forward to joining a great thing."
Lowry and Davenport teamed at their respective colleges with former Vikings – Lowry with Ifeadi Odenigbo (a 2017 draft pick who played 31 games for Minnesota from 2019-20) at Northwestern and Davenport with David Morgan (2016-18) at UTSA.
Additionally, Lowry had taken notice of the Vikings being ranked atop the NFL Players Association's first-ever report cards that were released ahead of free agency.
"That's really impressive for life outside of football, how they treat the players and everything for their families," Lowry said. "It's a place to be a part of the experience, but that definitely was true in visiting Monday. Everything is in place for the players to be successful, and it speaks to the investment that the ownership and front office has put in place for the players to overall get a great experience for them and their families."
Davenport said he's been a fan of the Vikings organization from afar ever since the team drafted Morgan in 2017. And while the Saints and Vikings don't share a division, the teams have certainly developed a unique competition while meeting multiple times – in the regular and postseason – over the past decade-plus.
"[Morgan has] only told me great things. I was excited to get up here," said Davenport, who knows Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips from training together in Carlsbad, California.
"When we played [the Vikings in London] and lost, he only spoke so highly of Minnesota. So just from that perspective, I'm ready," Davenport added.
He also has learned about the organization from Vikings Ring of Honor tight end Steve Jordan, father of Davenport's former Saints teammate Cameron Jordan.
"Ah, man, every time [Steve] talks about Minnesota, he's talking about the cold," Davenport said. "Yeah, that man is something else. But you know, he always claims that it's home. I like that aspect of it.
"As far as what I learned from Cam? Hm. What I learned from Cam was, and it's kind of weird and I know most people don't necessarily think about this, but he does so many things behind the scenes," Davenport added. "That is someone I look up to … purely, beyond anything else, based on his work ethic. You would know that he gets up and runs every morning, miles and miles, before he even works out, and you wouldn't see how much he does in the community. Like, he'll take his off days and go and just be a beacon. He's really one of those guys where you can look forward to and want to be like and that you can follow. There's not many true leaders out there, but he's one of them."
4. Excited about Vikings culture | By Lindsey Young
O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah emphasize culture and collaboration consistently; while the terms could be seen as buzzwords, Davenport and Lowry already are confident that Minnesota's leadership is the real deal.
"I had a great first visit on Monday, meeting the coaching staff, and just really impressed with the culture that Coach O'Connell has built there," Lowry said. "Their vision for the program is very exciting, and I'm looking forward to being a part of it.
"It seems like the guys in the Vikings locker room are a lot of high-quality guys. It seems like the Vikings seek out players with really strong character," Lowry continued. "Just having teammates and friends that have gone through the organization, that's one thing that's always said about it, and then just being in the building, the support staff, everyone from the nutrition to strength and conditioning, everything revolves around the players' performance, and that was really impressive to see firsthand."
Davenport echoed Lowry's sentiments, saying the Vikings culture played a significant role in him wanting to join Minnesota.
"I want to say my favorite part talking to [O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah] was their excitement. Just the energy that I got from them," Davenport said. "I wouldn't say there's not many teams, but [O'Connell] in particular stood out as someone I feel I would love to go play for. Somebody I'd be able to go out there and be able to put my all out there and know he's right there with us, fighting with us."